From Space The first difference between our Earth and Great Lakes Earth can be seen from space. Great Lakes Earth is still the third planet of the solar system, 93 million miles from the sun, 8,000 miles wide and weighing in at six sextillion tons. But that’s that. Back home, the moon has a diameter of 2159 miles and orbits Earth from a distance of 240,000 miles. You would need 81 moons to match the mass of Earth, and six of them to match its gravity. The moon that orbits Great Lakes Earth has a diameter of 4500 miles and orbits it from an orbit of 300,000 miles. This would mean a brighter nightscape than our own—over eight times brighter. It’s also much heavier—you would need seven of Great Lakes Earth’s moons to match the planet’s mass. Mars does not exist in the solar system of Great Lakes Earth, though the moon seems to be the best analogy in terms of size. The four gas giants are still there and still noticeable. However, in regards to diameter, each is twice as much as its twin back home. This would mean a substantial increase in mass and subsequently gravity. If this happens to Saturn, the rings that make it popular would be larger, maybe, but more solid and more compressed due to its higher gravity. These differences are so overwhelming that they directly affect the asteroid belt that divides the rocky inner planets from the gaseous outer planets. Whereas ours is a thick doughnut of fragments of rock and metal, the asteroid belt that haunts the system of Great Lakes Earth is as thin as an astronomical wedding ring. The only gas giant with a name identifiable to ours is Neptune. Jupiter is named “Jove” in Great Lakes Earth, Saturn “Kronos” and Uranus pronounced “Ouranos”. The next difference can be found inside the planet. The core has an astonishingly high number of metals—in the core, iron makes up 90% (it makes up 84% of the core back home), and nickel has the same proportion as back home, 6%, while the rest—like gold, platinum and even uranium—make up four. Both the mantle and the surface still have silicon, aluminum, iron, magnesium, calcium, sodium and potassium, but unlike our Earth, there is no “other”. The planet’s surface itself is loaded with obvious geographic and geological differences from ours. The Americas The Appalachian Range, at first glance, doesn’t seem so different—low-lying hills covered in forest dominating the eastern landscape. However, they are taller—7,244 feet above sea level at the highest, compared to Mount Mitchell back home, which is over 6500 feet above sea level. An even more radical difference is its history. Back home, the Appalachians first appeared 480 million years ago as the result of a collision between North America and Africa. On Great Lakes Earth, the Appalachians are no older than two and a half billion years, the result of several volcanic uplifts. Indeed, the Appalachians on Great Lakes Earth are a labyrinth of solid gneiss and granite, a macrocosm of the Black Hills, which we have but Great Lakes Earth doesn’t. The mountains of the American West have some major differences. For starters, only the Rockies stand firm—no Coast Range and most certainly no Sierra Nevada. Like the Appalachians, the Rockies on Great Lakes Earth have a different road from ours. If we connect the following dots from our North America, we might have an idea as to how the Rockies in Great Lakes Earth might be arranged: · Kugluktuk, Nunavut, Canada · Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada · Calgary, Alberta, Canada · Williston, North Dakota, United States · Rapid City, South Dakota, United States · Lamar, Colorado, United States · Clovis, New Mexico, United States · Ciudad Juarez, Mexico · San Luis Potosi, Mexico · Tampico, Mexico While our Rockies vary in width from 70 to 300 miles, their Rockies vary between 75 and 200 miles. While our Rockies stand no taller than 14,440 feet above sea level, the tallest peak in a Great Lakes Rockies is measured to be 14,505 feet. Not only that, they aged differently as well. Back home, our Rockies formed between 80 and 55 million years ago through the Laramide Orogeny, the subduction of the North American and Pacific Plates at a shallow angle. Their Rockies first formed 120 million years ago as the result of a collision between the the St. Lawrence Limestone and the continental Laramia. They stopped becoming active shortly before the dinosaur extinction. Even so, the rate of decay in Great Lakes Earth is significantly smaller than back home, for the main rocks are schist, granite and gneiss, tough rocks with small vulnerabilities. No wonder, then, that transdimensional explorer Mark Greene called the Great Lakes Earth Rockies “a single, continuous spine of breathtaking Tetons.” True to the spirit of the planet’s name, North America is full of large lakes. The largest of which is Agassiz. To have an idea on the shape, size and scope of Agassiz, we must look at the familiar faces of the Great Lakes—Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie and Ontario—and then flood off the entire basin. That is Lake Agassiz, 95,000 square miles and 257 meters deep on average. Agassiz started out as a few tectonic depressions that expired some 20 million years ago. They wouldn’t become one lake until the ice bulldozed the depressions during the Pleistocene glaciations. There are great lakes west of the Rockies as well. What we’d recognize as western Utah is for them Lake Bonneville, 25,000 square miles and a thousand feet deep. Lake Bidahochi in northeastern Arizona is over 30,000 square miles in area and is the source of the Colorado River. Unlike Agassiz, the tectonic depressions in Bonneville and Bidahochi are still volcanically active. Only six times in Great Lakes Earth’s recent geologic history did ice carve these lakes into the distinctive shapes that we can see today. Comparing Great Lakes Earth to ours, we’d find that all land below sea level has become water, and Death Valley, the continent’s lowest and hottest point, is no exception. In its place is Lake Manly, a long but narrow strip of water fed by rivers flowing from Bidahochi. It’s interesting that if we see the West Coast of Great Lakes North America, we’d see a real different shape. While the Atlantic coastline is similar to ours, the Pacific coastline looks as though 75 meters of sea level have risen. It is up north, from British Columbia to Alaska, that the iconic peaks of the Cascades stand firm. What we’d recognize as the Alaska Range in southern Alaska is an extension of the Cascades, turning the over 20,000-foot Denali into America’s largest volcano. The Yellowstone mantle plume is still present. Except that instead of Wyoming’s northwestern corner, it can be found in northeastern California. The latest eruption was in circa 250 AD and it wouldn’t awaken again for another 800,000 years. In the place of the original Cascades is the Sea of Missoula. Using the flood basalts of the Columbia River as a reference, we’d get a good idea on the shape, area size and location of the Sea of Missoula. It helps with the Great Lakes of the West to make western North America a plentiful place to be. It formed as excess ice from the Canadian Rockies and the nearby lakes melted and collapsed. Comparing their South America to ours, there’s not much to find. The Andes themselves, though equal in length and width to our own, are taller and more active—the highest currently stands 30,111½ feet above sea level (not 22,841, as was the case back home) and the annual average of volcanic eruptions measures in at 50. Eurasia Physically absent in the supercontinent are Turkey, Israel, Iran, and the Low Countries (Belgium, Netherlands, Luxemburg and Denmark). Back home, Scandinavia is one of Earth’s reconginzable peninsulas. On Great Lakes Earth, the body we’d recognize as the Baltic Sea is dry land. On satellite, we can see that a great scar cuts through 1500 miles of Mongolia and Russia before emptying into the Arctic Ocean. One of North America’s iconic landscapes, the Grand Canyon, doesn’t exist on Great Lakes Earth, nor does the Great Rift Valley of east Africa, so this one, the Baikal Fault Junction, is the closest analogy to both. It is 1500 miles long and 50 wide, a great contrast to our Grand Canyon, which stretches only 277 miles long and 18 at the widest. However, both are no deeper than one mile. The dominating feature of Asia is a large region of basaltic rock, the Siberian Traps. It once covered an area of seven million square kilometers and a volume of five million cubic kilometers. It formed as a series of volcanic eruptions spewed out lava 65 million years ago. Eurasia is subject to Great Lakes Earth’s largest sea, one that we used to have back home—the Tethys. For a clear picture of the extent of the Tethys, we must imagine the entire southern coastline of Europe as though 75 meters of sea level have risen. We must also imagine all land below sea level being water, which means that the Caspian Depression is completely flooded. The island of Newfoundland is the southeastern extension of Iceland. It stands at a point where a stationary mantle plume, loaded with silicon, stands at a crossroads between the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and the edge of the Arctic Plate. In Asia, what looks to us like Borneo is a big extension of eastern India, erasing the Bay of Bengal from the map. Sumatra is an extension of India’s western coast. The rest of Indonesia, as well as the island chain of the Phillipines, don’t exist. This leaves the Malay Peninsula dangling on its own. The islands of Japan and the Tethys have one thing in common—they are the result of subductive hot spots, stationary mantle plumes standing in the intersections of colliding plates. In the Tethys, large islands like Sicily, Crete, Sardinia and Corsica stand where mantle plumes stand between the African, European and Alpine Plates. Japan, consisting of seven large hotspots, stands a mile east of the Asian Plate and three west of the Pacific. This results in a far more mountainous Japanese chain, where Mount Fuji stands as high as Denali and erupts once every fifty years like clockwork. The Alps remain tall, as they are back home. This time, though, the range’s highest peak, Olympus, stands at over 25,000 feet above sea level and still rising. If we put their Alps on our map, we’d see that they loop near or across the following cities: · Koper, Slovenia · Novo Mesto, Slovenia · Osijek, Croatia · Belgrade, Serbia and Montenegro · Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic · Arad, Romania · Bras ov, Romania · Varna, Bulgaria The Skandies, stretching the length of the western Scandinavian coast, are the same height as back home, but on Great Lakes Earth, they are the result of ocean/continent collisions—volcanoes. The Ural, Caucasus and Pyrenees chains don’t exist on Great Lakes Earth. Back home, the Himalayan range in Asia is impressive enough. On Great Lakes Earth, they are even more so. The highest peak, Kailash, stands 33,500 feet above sea level and still rising. If Mauna Kea in Hawaii were above sea level, this would have been its equal. Their Himalayas are older than ours, if the differences in height suggest anything. Ours first formed 50 million years ago. Theirs rose from the plains 65-70 million years ago. Africa To the naked eye, you may not see any difference between our Africa and theirs. Indeed, back home, a fraction of the continent is at or below sea level. An Africa that has witnessed a 75-meter rise in sea level forms the overall, basic shape of an Africa in Great Lakes Earth. Like some of the other continents, Africa has its share of great lakes—in the Sahara, there are Annhot-Moyer, Fezzan and Chad. What the map recognizes as “Chotts” is actually a bay, a small extension of the Tethys. The Great Lakes of our North America in this map are merely presented for size comparison. They are all fed and connected by one watershed, the Jordan. Despite the dramatic addition of water in the north, the Sahara is still there. It’s just that it is 30% the size of the desert back home and rocky enough to be classified as “badlands”. Back home, the highlands of Ethiopia cover an area of over a hundred thousand square miles with an altitude of 4,550 meters above sea level. In Great Lakes Earth, the Ethiopian Plateau, as it is called, covers all of Ethiopia, Djibouti, Eritrea, Somalia and Kenya. On top of that, it’s taller as well—an average of 21,837 feet above sea level, 1500 feet higher than Denali. The constant shifting of ice coming and going in the past five million years was the only result of the plateau’s distinctive spires and fortresses. Four of Africa’s rivers out of five originate from the plateau. There is another great lake in Africa, this time south of the equator. Back home, the Okavango Delta, Lakes Ngami and Xau, the Mabambe Depression and the salt pans of Nxai, Sua and Nwetwe are all that remains of Lake Makgadikgadi, a vast body of water that covered an area of 50,000 square miles and 100 feet deep. In Great Lakes Earth, Makgadikgadi is still there, fed by the rivers Zambezi, Cuando and Okavango and, like the Great Lakes of the Sahara, turns the neighboring Kalahari Desert into more fertile savanna. However, because of the frigid Benguela Current, the lake’s influence on another neighboring desert, the Namib, is insignificant. The lakes of the East African Rift, which include the familiar shapes of Malawi, Tanganyika and Victoria, are nowhere to be seen. Nor, consequently, are the mountains of Rwenzori and Virunga. In Great Lakes Earth, the range we’d recognize as the Atlas Mountains is nowhere to be seen. But there is evidence in sedimentary layers that they used to exist but crumbled out of sight over a hundred million years ago. Australia First and foremost, it’s not called “Australia” in Great Lakes Earth, but rather “Sahul”. To convert Oceania to Sahul, we must follow these instructions, in order: · One—rearrange the island of New Guinea so far down that it is connected to the Cape York Peninsula. · Two—glue the North and South Islands of New Zealand as extensions of the eastern coast. · Three—cut the distance between it and Antarctica by half. Sahul is the oldest continent on Great Lakes Earth, older even than Africa. Rocks have been measured in at 3,200,000,000 years. Pole to Pole There are two major differences that make Great Lakes Earth’s Arctic considerably cooler from our Arctic. First off, compared to our oceans, the Arctic Ocean of Great Lakes Earth seems to have a little elbow room. The reason why can be found in the places that give the Prime Meridian, the center of the east-west longitudinal coordinate system, its nickname. Back home, it is nicknamed the “Greenwich Meridian”. On Great Lakes Earth, it is the “Lisbon Meridian”. Africa, Eurasia and Sahul have, compared to our Old World, moved that far eastward, widening the Atlantic, but at the expense of overthrowing the Pacific for the title of “largest ocean”. This creates a landbridge that connects Asia to North America, erasing the Bering Strait off the map and shrinking the Bering Sea. Added exposure to the chilly Atlantic turns the ocean of the polar bears colder. Making it even colder still is moving the island of Greenland to the extent that Mont Forel, the island’s highest peak, is located in the North Pole. Another major difference is the depth of the Arctic Ocean. Back home, the average depth is only 1205 meters, almost 4,000 feet. By contrast, the Arctic’s average depth on Great Lakes Earth is a staggering 3460 meters. That’s 11,352 feet! Back home, the average depth of the Southern Ocean is 4500 meters. On Great Lakes Earth, it is merely 2735 meters. One other difference between our Antarctica and the one on Great Lakes Earth is the terrain. 65 million years ago, Antarctica was the center of a vast pool of lava, estimated to cover an area of seven million square kilometers and a volume of five million cubic kilometers. Ocean Deep Stretching the entire lengths of South and Central America, subduction of the Pacific Plate means that the shelf extends one to three miles from the coast. Once we reach Mexico, however, the boundary chaotically varies from 50 to 200 miles from the coast before touching down a mile off the coast of British Columbia. Once it’s done with the Aleutian Peninsula, the shelf turns straight to Japan. The largest contribution to the oceanic differences between us and Great Lakes Earth is the Tethys itself. Back home, the body of water that separates Europe from Africa has an area of 970,000 square miles. In Great Lakes Earth, the number has substantially gotten higher—at least two and a half million square miles. Even so, the ratio between deep and shallow water is remarkably similar to that of the Mediterranean—more or less than 45% of the sea is no deeper than 200 meters (the required maximum depth for a sea to be “shallow”). Regardless, it’s still deep—the average depth is 3767 meters, not 1500 as is the case back home. Outside of those mentioned above, the continental shelves are identical in size, shape and location to back home. But when we drift outside the shelves, we find another crucial difference between our oceans and theirs—depth. Back home, the Pacific Ocean, the largest of the five, has an average depth of 4028 meters, 15,215 feet. On Great Lakes Earth, the Pacific’s average is 6896 meters, 22,625 feet. The Indian’s average depth back home is a surprising 3963 meters, 13,002 feet, considering the ocean’s cliched tropical imagery. On Great Lakes Earth, it’s a pinch less surprising—3295 meters, or 10,810 feet. The Atlantic Ocean back home has an average depth of 3926 meters, or 10,950 feet. On Great Lakes Earth, its average depth is 4679 meters. Such changes in depth turn the edges of most continental shelves into sheer vertical drops.